Fort Worth’s Brite Divinity School holds vigil for teen lesbian couple shot in S. Texas

Posted on 03 Jul 2012 at 12:34pm

Participants bow their heads during the vigil on June 29.

Oak Lawn wasn’t the only place in the DFW area where a vigil was held for the teenage lesbian couple who were shot in a park near Corpus Christi on June 23. Mollie Olgin, 18, was killed, and Kristene Chapa, 19, remains hospitalized.

Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth held a vigil on its campus Friday. The vigil was led by Brite’s Executive Vice President and Dean Joretta Marshall and professor Stephen Sprinkle. Both are openly gay.

Sprinkle said he believed it was the only vigil for Olgin and Chapa held on the campus of a divinity school. Brite President Newell Williams issued a pastoral response that was read at the vigil. The full text is after the jump.

A Pastoral Response And An Invitation

June 29, 2012

We believe in a God whose mercy and justice is without end. In the name of that God, we offer comfort to those who mourn and are outraged over the vicious attacks committed against two young women, Mollie Judith Olgin, 19, and Mary Christine Chapa, 18, last weekend in a Portland, Texas park. This incident follows other acts of violence such as the racist and homophobic hate graffiti in Arlington earlier in June. Such acts perpetrated against women and men in our country because of who they are, who they choose to love, or because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time and someone took offense to their existence, reminds all of us that we live in a world that is dangerous to the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of many of us. We invite churches and pastoral leaders to speak out against this kind of injustice and violence, in the name of God.

Often in our country, the name of God is used in our communities, in our churches, and from our pulpits to condemn or – at the very least – to encourage non-support of those who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Erroneous biblical interpretation connects with fear in ways that make it difficult for LGBT persons to flourish in our churches and in our communities. Hurtful and harmful rhetoric offered by some within the Christian community contributes to the likelihood of violence and reinforces in the minds of some that silence and closets are the best options for their lives. The result is that faithful members of the LGBT community continue to live in fear in their communities and hesitate to speak out on their own behalf or on behalf of others. Members of TLBG communities often avoid our churches because their souls are damaged by the perpetuation of silence or the messages of intolerance and sometimes hate.

We invite pastoral leaders to:

•         pray for the families, friends, and communities surrounding Mollie and Mary

•         pray for all who embody a gender identity or sexual orientation that invites fear because of the potential for violence done against them

•         pray for the souls of those who committed this act of violence and those who participate and support such violence in our world

•         speak out against violence and draw upon the resources of our faith – biblical, historical, ecclesial, pastoral – in ways that clearly claim God’s desire for those within the bisexual, transgender, gay, and lesbian communities to flourish

•         urge reporters, editors, broadcasters, bloggers, and other members of the news media to report incidents like these fully and fairly, informing the public of the human, social, and moral impact of such deeds of violence and injustice

•         create space for communities to gather in deeper and more meaningful conversation about how to be open and vital spiritual homes for all

Thank you for joining our commitment at Brite Divinity School to foster the life-giving and life-affirming grace of God in our communities. If there is any way that we can support the work in your church or community, please do not hesitate to call upon us.

In the meantime, with prayers for all and with grace sufficient to continue the work of embodying justice in our world in God’s name.

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